Boundaries Establish Clarity - The Daviston Group

Boundaries Establish Clarity

I wrote this article to answer a question: Why do some people get results and others don’t? The truth is that CEOs, owners and managers are always seeking that next shiny object that will solve their problem and propel them from where they are to where they want to be.

The right plan is important but it doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, there are probably five or six “right” plans for any given situation. Each plan has its strengths and weaknesses. No plan is perfect.

Let’s expose the problem and look at how to solve it. I know this problem well because I coach businesses that use the same plan but get different results. They spend lots of money, time and training and I watch in frustration as these good systems are discarded and even blamed.

One owner will say, “Ah, we tried that and it just didn’t work for us.” Another will say, “Wow, what a difference that system is making for us. I don’t know how we survived without it.” The puzzling part for me was seeing how it could be a magic pill for one and trash for another. It’s the same system. This cannot be!

The answer is not a simple one. The maxim, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” is true. And the way that you decide to skin the cat will get you to the same result, a skinned cat. But getting your team to follow the cat skinning process is more challenging than the process itself.

Therein lies the problem as well as the answer to the question: Why do some people get results and others don’t? How do you get your people to do what it takes? That is the difference between success and failure. It always goes back to the people. Where you win or lose is with your people, not the next shiny object.

So, how do you get your people to do what it takes to make the plan work? The leadership must be committed to the plan, set boundaries and keep these boundaries up when team members violate the boundary. Dr Henry Cloud wrote in his book Boundaries For Leaders that there are four keys to changing behavior.

The leader must set the expectation, much like a parent would set an expectation with his child but not in a parental way. The expectation must be communicated clearly and should be committed to by the leader. If there is any indication that the expectation is not committed to by the leader it will be like a small hole in a dam. It will get bigger and implode and then you’ll blame the plan.

Recently I have been working with a group of seven technicians. We are teaching them The Service Call Blueprint, which is a process. We expect them to do certain things on the service call and execute the things they have learned. To learn more you may attend the webinar at

While we were having some success with the technicians, the language that the owner was using was non-committal language. The Blueprint was in conflict with his bias or paradigm about how to service and dispatch. His language to the troops was, “We are going to give this a try.” Imagine how you would feel as a soldier in an army and the general said, “We’re going to try and take that hill.”

So the boss wasn’t very committed, nor were his technicians, and so behavior was slow to change. The technicians could sense that maybe this was just like the last thing they tried. Soon this new thing too would fade away and we could get back to the status quo.

I scheduled a three-way online meeting with this client, myself and another client of mine who had to walk through the same circumstances. It’s amazing how connecting with someone who was where you are gives you hope. My client heard real stories about real struggles and how they overcame the fear and doubt. He heard the words, but more than anything he could feel the joy of the success and he wanted the same.

This is why ACCA mix groups are so valuable. You get to connect with people like yourself who have the same problems. Relationships are the most important things that we have in life because someone has the answer to your problem.

The next morning my client had a meeting with his techs, dispatchers and the manager and he said this: “We are going to do this and there is no turning back. I am committed to this and you must be committed also. We have always lost money in the service department and subsidized it with install. We are no longer going to do this.”

This is what the team was waiting on. They were waiting on clarity. Before this they had none. The lack of clarity was present because the leader was not clear. Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” It really is that simple. A handful of essential boundaries that make sure important things are executed prevent certain bad things from happening. Boundaries protect us. Leaders have to establish them and maintain them.

The Service Call Blueprint succeeds 100% of the time when the leader is committed and sets boundaries. Let’s look at a few symptoms that occurs when a business culture has a boundary problem.

1. Departments, systems or processes that operate in isolation from one another.
2. Individual agendas that are more important than the team.
3. Division among the team.
4. Negativity.
5. A culture of gossip.
6. Powerlessness and helplessness.
7. Blaming.
8. Sarcasm.
9. Lack of Clarity.
10. People are extremely busy but results are minimal.

Boundaries lead to clarity. Clarity leads to attention and attention leads to results. I learned a formula for successful meetings by watching what Larry (one of my mentors) taught me. He would always ask us to share a success story. These success stories focused our attention on the boundary or expectation about the process. While others were listening they were also focusing and learning.

What Larry was doing was forcing us to attend to what worked. Larry kept it current by holding weekly meetings with the group. When one of us would stray off process and start talking about something we executed wrong, Larry would get a baseball bat out of the corner and hold it. This was a powerful reminder that we were executing outside of the process.

The boundary or expectation sets a standard and actually drives a technician’s behavior. In other words we say, Here is your greeting, memorize it by heart and execute it. Here is your script for presenting the menu. Memorize it by heart and execute it. Here is your script for explaining why the customer may want to choose a higher option. Memorize it and execute it.

The scripts that I write insure that process is followed which in this example is the boundary. Words are only 7% of what we communicate. The other 93% you can be yourself, tempo, pitch, cadence, and body language, but don’t change the words because the words keep you within the process that works. Talk too much and you will get yourself into trouble.

The script is a set of boundaries that the leader must commit to or the techs don’t execute the behavior that forms the new identity. Once the new identity has been established this new identity sets a new higher standard. This is much like what occurs when a person goes to weight watchers. The new behavior in time establishes a new skinnier person with a new identity.

However, the new behavior and identity will slip if we do not establish a system of accountability like weight watchers does. You must weigh in every week. I guarantee you when people stop going and weighing in behavior slips and weight is gained.

It is no different with The Service Call Blueprint. You can establish this system of accountability by riding along with the technician and scoring his word for word meet and greet, presentation and response to questions. Another excellent way to ensure behavior happens is by periodically recording and listening to the meet and greet, presentation and response to questions. This has proven to be effective and maintains results. Go read the last blog post at called “Case Study” and you’ll see how critical a system for accountability is for ensuring that behavior happens. This pattern is the same for any successful plan or system.

Let me repeat it. The leader sets the standard and then holds people accountable to the standard. It really is that simple.